Some of man’s most intractable troubles are visited on him by very small beasts. Viruses. Bacteria. Fungi. Parasites.
The rat flea gave you the Black Death. Jiggers could dictate intervention by the Speaker of Parliament.
Now, think locusts. Among small enemies, a giant.
I assume that Uganda under NRM rule is proud to be described as a warrior nation. For as long as the 1981-86 Bush War conquerors have been in power, they have had enemies, or perceived enemies and potential enemies. They have fought, or vowed to fight and defeat whoever was interested in war with them.
They “brought peace.” But war was better because it presented a test where the superior fighter proved himself and got worshipped as a superior human being by society.
It, therefore, begins to make sense, that even in situations where there is no war, and the threat to the established superior humans is entirely civil and peaceful, our superior humans must reinterpret that situation and treat it as war.
Armoured vehicles must race to strategic points. Infantry-men, commandos and military police toughies must be deployed everywhere, armed to the teeth – with or without the Uganda police. Indeed, many of the policemen must be disguised soldiers.
The enemy must have only a little more room than he needs to breathe. In some instructive cases, take no prisoners. Let fools be seen to die.
So, as a warrior nation, Uganda is always ready for combat; moreover, at several fronts.
Count… How many fronts?
Naturally, all the countries that share a border with Uganda are potential battlefield adversaries. The roll call: DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania.
Then there is Somalia and the Central African Republic, where Uganda’s pan-African interests are expressed with boots and guns on the battlefield. Not just talking. The total: seven current and potential battlefields.
Enter the locust. Swarms have been in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and other places.
In Somalia, armed with only their powerful jaws, they have seen something of the UPDF, a big part of Amisom, and they probably have not been impressed. They invaded at will and ate more or less what foliage they wanted.
There were casualties of course.
You do not take on man, or decimate his crops and livestock pastures and get away completely unscathed. Some died from unnatural causes. Especially poison sprays. Man is ruthless at chemical warfare against other species.
But guns and bombs? They were useless in Somalia. And 2,000 soldiers deployed specifically on the war against locusts in Uganda is a wasted effort.
Small contingents of the voracious grasshopper have been in north-eastern Uganda to scout around, looking at the conditions before making a decision to (or not to) launch a major invasion. That decision, the locusts will make in their own time, and attack places of their choice.
In the meantime, as I write on Tuesday, the delayed invasion looks like part of the locusts’ strategy to weaken the enemy by exposing her incompetence, and forcing the enemy forces to fight secondary wars among themselves.
Indeed, government ministers and senior officials are fighting over the billions of shillings in the war chest.
Taking a cue from the health sector, where concern over the Chinese Coronavirus is not likely to involve more than a few suspected Ugandan victims, but where their government friends have reportedly already gobbled up a cool $7 million, the locust people have hauled in over Shs20 billion.
The ministries for Karamoja Affairs, Agriculture, Disaster Preparedness and Defence have this big pie in front of them. In a vampire state, you scramble for chunks of that pie. You tear each other. If need be, you kill each other. If the locusts like our greenery, let them feed.
Ultimately, a vampire state renders a warrior state incapable of fighting its primary wars.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.